I admit to my potty mouth.
Growing up where I did, going to Catholic schools, and being a drunk for most of my first 30 years…well, it affected me. I could say that these things gave me a dirty mind, a love of danger, and a knack for iconoclasm. But that would be wrong. Plenty of good people come through these situations without gaining a soft spot in their hearts for human vice. I went through these things and came out twisted. Gleefully so.
It could be that it was the lack of an effective familial anchor that set me adrift to drink booze, smoke dope, and, when the time came, chase women. To wreck cars, rappel mountain faces, and look at bears in the shoot. To leave on whim for foreign countries, quit jobs to vagabond around the desert, and look for the face of god in the tiny backwaters of and mobile home courts of impoverished Missouri.
I don’t know about the family stuff. It was a rough family, I know that. My father was a staunch Catholic zealot who never saw a sin he wouldn’t rant about. He drank and prosthelytized, foresaw the end of the world, and preached the need for every human being, Catholic or not, to say the Rosary every day. My mom was just as capricious, given to panic when water on the stove took to boiling, and doing her best to find meaning in the Polyester Age.
Both of them had heavy hands they did not hesitate to use in times of anger and frustration. Most of the time they used them on us kids. But sometimes they used them on each other.
So, to keep this from being another in a long line of “I’m fucked because my parents fucked me” stories, I will only say that alcohol, frustration, and emptiness created an atmosphere of constant competition. My siblings and I, instead of experiencing a common oppression, fought each other. As soon as we could, we fled house and home, and fell into the worlds that we chose for ourselves.
Mine was a world of drunks, thieves, miscreants, felons, and drug addicts. Our living conditions were all about the same. Dingy apartments with bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Mattresses on floors for beds, or, in a pinch, several layers of blankets and plastic packing foam. Spartan. A few sticks of furniture and cushions that radiated out from a spot about six feet in front of the 12-inch, black-and-white TV. Every time I went to someone else’s house, I felt right at home.
And it was a pretty come-and-go lot. Drunks know that drunks disappear. They lumber off into jail, to another town, or to church. The church people were reliable. They would be back. People who went off to AA or treatment, they may never come back. Appear, reappear, or disappear, I came to accept the inevitability of transience. I remember being around a group of heroin addicts for a good long time. When someone didn’t show up to the shoot, everyone else just figured them for dead. Period. If they did show up later or a few days later, it was like, “Wow. Cool…” If that person never showed up, your name was rarely, if ever, heard again.
I know some people who came out of the ruts and became preachy, holy, and refined. Good for them. They wouldn’t want their kids to know their pasts, and they do everything in their power to protect them from injurious things.
But they are hypocrites and they smell of the kind of social snobbery that manufactures miseries, judgments, and repulsions. And they are constructing the conditions for the collapse of their children, or their children’s children. Maybe their offspring will be upstanding moral types. Maybe they will and their children will not. Maybe they will fall into the same pits their parents did and never come out.
As far as my kids go, they know everything about me. Everything that’s not inappropriate for kids to know about their parents. So, for instance, they know that I took up drinking and smoking dope in the fourth grade. They know that I wrecked cars, lived under bridges, and busted up private and public property. My daughter, who’s older, knows I slept around and around. We don’t discuss it. She just knows and she knows that personal relationships should have something more to them than a quart or Christian Brothers brandy.
When I open up my Web site and look at the stats for the day or month, I can see the kinds of search terms that people use and that have brought them to my sight. Most of them are quite straightforward and innocent. But there are others. The language I use on my site is not clean. It is for adult consumption, and this is what brings a lot of people in when the put in their search programs what they are looking for.
I’ve listed only a few of these errant phrases below. As I read them, I can’t help think of the kinds of people who look for these things. Certainly, I might get curious and search for the breeding habits of the Nubian ibex. But the people who look for the things listed below are highly and unhealthily repressed.
kinky arnica porn
packed his flesh pipe
old folks home fucking stories
old folks fucking stories
old folks christmas porno story
german peeing porno
drug addicts fucking
hogs and dogs
There are many, many more that I’ve collected over the last two years.
As you can see, I have a story buried on my Web site that has something to do with porn. Actually, the name of the story is, Porno: A Literary Love Story and it’s a novel about the kind of people who might actually look for stories of old people fucking. I also have a story about an old man who is trying to find a little meaning in his life before he has to go off to the nursing home. I have a character in a story called Justine Arnica. I also have stories about drug addicts, Christmas, dogs, and a kid who can’t stop mutilating himself with metal objects–although how piercing and titties come together, I don’t know. (I’ve seen them, I just don’t understand them.)
I don’t demure from writing about stuff that’s hard for some to think about. But I hope I do it in a way that allows even those people access, and, ultimately, the insight we all need into our own fears, neuroses, and hatreds, as well as into our joys, epiphanies, and triumphs.
Now, writing as I do, I don’t expect to gather fans among fundamentalists of any religion, prudish people, or people who think they have a corner on suffering. I make light of things like the hydrogen bomb, billion dollar airplanes, and the habits of the rich–all of which are absurd and show the absurdity of this life. I joke about death, because I’ve nearly died more times than even I wish to say. My vices are no worse or better than anyone elses’ and, in fact, they pale in comparison to some.
I’m not the greatest interpreter of the human soul. I cannot say why a guy takes a man’s wallet and then shoots him, or why a gang of kids beats an unsuspecting pedestrian nearly to death at a convenience store. But I can say that these acts are human. They are as human as a man or woman looking for pierced titties on the internet, or pierced titties, period.
The search terms and all the meanings and intentions hidden in them are the reasons I really like my species. One of my best friends berated me not long ago for saying that good and bad, joyful and hurtful, gentle and savage, and everything rolled up in between make the world beautiful. He told me I was full of shit and that I was building a way not to have to deal with the shit that goes on in the world.
I felt bad for him, really. I tried to say that it was because of this, I was able to suspend judgment for a while so I could be of use to others. He laughed. I left his house feeling pretty hurt that he had seen fit to make things so personal.
Until I realized that if I am going to accept him as my friend, I get the whole package, not just the pieces I like.